Dilip V. Jeste, a psychiatrist, decided to focus his medical career on helping the elderly age well instead of merely treating ailments.
This goal led him to a commentary on wisdom.
After Jeste surveyed both modern and ancient texts, he found that across the globe, cultures agree on what a wise person is.
- Their traits include compassion, empathy, sound social reasoning, decision-making, equanimity, tolerance of divergent values, and comfort with uncertainty and ambiguity.
Although I am primarily focusing on the elders of our group, I’m praising many of today’s youth, for many are stepping up to the plate and making a difference. Think of #Emma Gonzalez, a high school senior who gave an impassioned speech regarding school shootings. (Feb. 17, 2018) Excerpt:
“Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead, we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change we need to see. Since the time of the Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed, but our laws have not.”…
“I read something very powerful to me today. It was from the point of view of a teacher. And I quote: ‘When adults tell me I have the right to own a gun, all I can hear is my right to own a gun outweighs your student’s right to live. All I hear is mine, mine, mine, mine.'”
I’ve heard it said that today’s kids were born “Cable ready.”
I was drawn to write about wisdom after a blog reader submitted a blog content titled
7 Tips for Discovering Positivity and Inspiration During a Mid-Life Crisis
An old saw states, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I was thinking of the concept of a mid-life crisis when Dilip V. Jeste’s commentary on wisdom decided to appear.
It took me back to my college days when I learned about Abraham Maslow’s Self-Actualized human being. (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970). His humanistic approach to ills diverged from Sigmund Freud’s approach, which focused on unhealthy individuals engaging in disturbing conduct.
Maslow’s humanistic approach focused on healthy individuals.Maslow stated that people have an inborn desire to be self-actualized. To achieve this lofty goal, however, basic needs need to be met. This includes the need for food, safety, love, and self-esteem.
Here is a pyramid of Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needs that motivate people
This brings me to NOW and how we as individuals could see a mid-life crisis or the many passages of our lives not as a roadblock, but as a way to grow as humane individuals.
Most of us don’t have a wise old grandma whose lap we can lay our heads and weep out our woes. She would stroke our hair and say, “Now honey, this too will pass. Your kids are grown, but that doesn’t mean you’re to be put out to pasture. It simply means a new adventure and a new contribution. Right now, your nerves are in turmoil, but remember, it wasn’t much fun when puberty slapped us, either.”
“We’ve lived through good times and bad, and we’re here. You have your life ahead. You have a contribution to give, now dry your tears, and get to work. That’s the reason we live past childbearing years—to see that our species continues. And be joyful, kiddo—that’s the secret.”
And after blasting through a Netflix documentary series titled Down to Earth with Zac Efron, starring and produced by Zac Efron and Darin Olien, a carnivore and a vegan who searched the Australian continent for sustainable living conditions. I realized that instead of bemoaning our conditions, we need to get to work.
I think I will begin with composting. Adding compost to the soil will build it up. If the soil isn’t healthy, it cannot give us nutritious food. And I learned from Down to Earth that a healthy soil absorbs Carbon dioxide, and we all have learned that the buildup of CO2 in our atmosphere has contributed to global warming.
How can we heal the planet? How can we help ourselves?
Intrinsic in the Hippocratic oath physicians take at their initiation into doctoring is the phrase, “First do no harm.”
What if we adopt that?
We can argue whether global warming is a naturally occurring event or whether people have caused it. A better question is, “How can we help alleviate the problem?”
We can emphatically say, “If you are going to destroy us, your people, the animals you have nourished, and the plants you help to grow, you will have to do it without my help.”
While many troublesome conditions prevail on the Australian continent, there is hope. Many people are creating sustainable living conditions, farms, an animal food source derived from algae that reduce methane produced from cows by 80%, electricity from the wind, wrapping material derived from plants that look like plastic, and people living entirely off the grid.
Instead of sucking up negative vibes from the media regarding world conditions and contemplating our navels about our psychological needs, we ought to have a grander view.
Instead of wringing our hands at such questions as “Is the world ending?” Instead, we can follow Maslow’s directive, stop studying the ills, and look to what positive thing works.”
Thus, I turned to the Humanistic approach of psychology. We’ve focused on Freud’s theory of biological determinism long enough. And while people like Darwin contributed significantly to our knowledge, we have reached the stage of life where we are driving our own evolution. (Consider the study of epigenetics, and Joe Dispenza’s book, Becoming Supernatural.)
Maslow’s theory of self-actualization has been met with resistance. However, the humanistic branch of psychology is widely misunderstood.
The main point of the humanistic movement, which reached its peak in the 1960s, was to emphasize the positive potential of human beings.
Imagine such a thing.
It is as if Freud supplied us with the sick half of psychology, and we must now fill it out with the healthy half.
Some of the people Maslow studied were Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Eleanor Roosevelt. In his daily journal (1961–63), Maslow wrote: “heroes that I write for, my judges, the ones I want to please: Jefferson, Spinoza, Socrates, Aristotle, James, Bergson, Norman Thomas, Upton Sinclair (both heroes of my youth).” All were “reality centered,” able to differentiate what was fraudulent from what was genuine. They were also “problem centered,” meaning that they treated life’s difficulties as problems that demanded solutions.
A part of Maslow’s theory is that a person enjoys “peak experiences,” high points in life when the individual is in harmony with himself and his surroundings. Some would call that one’s spirituality.
Peak experiences are moments of love, understanding, happiness, or rapture, during which a person feels more whole, alive, self-sufficient, and yet a part of the world, more aware of truth, justice, harmony, goodness, and so on.
Spiritual life, as Maslow puts it, is an instinct. It can be heard through the voices arising from within. However, two forces are pulling at the individual, not just one. One pulls us toward health and self-actualization, the other towards weaknesses and sickness.
According to Maslow, religious or spiritual values are not the exclusive property of any one religion or group. Self-actualizers are religious in their character, attitudes, and behavior.
“Spiritual disorders” tend toward anger or a loss of meaning. Sometimes it is grief or despair regarding the future. There is often a belief that one’s life is being wasted and that finding joy or love is impossible. Often this comes at the time we call a mid-life crisis.
What is missing is Grandma’s lap, the soothing hand, and the stern voice to tell us to get off our duffs and get to work.
To read 7 Tips for Discovering Positivity and Inspiration During a Mid-Life Crisis by Kimberly Hayes, firstname.lastname@example.org
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